Afghan, Indian social media accounts being used to malign Pakistan: Moeed
Staff Reporter Islamabad
Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday hit Afghanistan military and civil leadership hard, wondering where the whopping $2 trillion had “vanished” which they received to build a national army.
The minister’s comments came in the wake of yet another offensive by the Taliban, as two more cities fell to the insurgents Tuesday.
Lashing out at the “so-called” Afghanistan leadership, Chaudhry said people in both Afghanistan and the US must be wondering where the hefty $2 trillion, that was supposed to build the Afghanistan National Army, had gone.
“How come all ministers and generals became billionaires but the people of Afghanistan are suffering due to poverty? Who is responsible for these sufferings?” he wondered.
“Corruption of leadership drowns nations and Afghanistan is an example of that,” he concluded.
National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday shared data pertaining to anti-Pakistan social media trends that were launched between 2019 and 2021, the majority of which have been traced to India and Afghanistan, with the aim of running a “targeted, deliberate and conscious disinformation campaign against Pakistan”.
Yusuf said that the government through analysis and data will shed light on the “information warfare” Pakistan is faced with.
He said he wishes to speak of Afghanistan in particular, where the Taliban and the government are at war.
He said the government’s social media teams and think tanks have worked extensively to gather evidence that shows that social media accounts “from Afghanistan and India are being used repeatedly to malign Pakistan”.
Yusuf said that most recently a #SanctionPakistan trend spread online and it merited an investigation to see whether it was organic.
The NSA went on to say that besides this, there are efforts to blame Pakistan for all the failures that accumulated in the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan.
He said that as US troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban took control of cities and provincial capitals, “there was a growing narrative against Pakistan with the aim to save themselves from being blamed for their own failures”.
“And it is very unfortunate that some high level officials in the Afghan government are part of this, some of which have come forth as well,” he said.
He said “a lot of accounts have links to the state” and through India as well “a very well coordinated campaign is being run against Pakistan”.
“We will expose all these truths, not through fake news but through data and facts. We will form a narrative to tell the world what is being done with Pakistan.”
The NSA then proceeded to show a few slides, one of which was a timeline from 2019 onwards, and others, which showed how, as matters grew more intense in Afghanistan, hashtags against Pakistan popped up.
Speaking in greater depth of the #SanctionPakistan trend, he said that he has just come from the US, and “neither is there such talk, nor is it true or without any merit”.
“So I urge our people to please know this: there is no reason for such a thing. We have positive discussions underway with every important country.”
Yusuf then sought to address the media in English for international audiences.
“We have just summarised for the audience and the press, a targeted, deliberate and conscious disinformation campaign against Pakistan, directly linked to accounts in Afghanistan and India, some unfortunately linked to the state apparatus which are constantly trying to malign Pakistan in the international arena, discrediting the Pakistan government and Army, talking about fictitious sub-nationalism, targeting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and trying to put all blame of what is happening in Afghanistan on Pakistan,” said the NSA.
Yusuf said the “real tragedy” in all of this is that the world, rather than focusing on putting all its efforts being a political settlement in Afghanistan — which is Pakistan’s priority and effort — “many in positions of responsibility” are trying to “shift the blame”, trying to create such disinformation campaigns.
He urged his fellow Pakistanis to not believe everything on social media. “Please check and verify before you see a trend going in a particular direction.”
“Our security forces, security apparatus and government is vigilant and InshaAllah we are safe, and will remain safe. There is nothing to worry about but this fake news disinformation campaign is going on and we will not shy away from pointing out who is doing this,” Yusuf ended by saying.
Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, shed light on India’s involvement in the disinformation campaign.
“India’s is the biggest hand in the social media trends against Pakistan,” he said, adding that it used fake social media accounts for the purpose.
Citing the example of Senior Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Usman Kakar, who he said died due to a brain hemorrhage, the minister said that India ran fake social media campaigns against his death as well.
“Some 2,000 tweets were posted from Indian accounts over his death,” Chaudhry said.
He also spoke of how PTI member Zulfi Bukhari was accused of covertly visiting Israel. “Israel ran a social media trend regarding this which saw 10,000 tweets posted.”
The information minister said that the PML-N media team and JUI-F “also participated in this trend with full zeal”.
He said that all the discord between groups in Pakistan stems from “foreign involvement”.
“Social media accounts from abroad are involved in attempts to fan sectarian hatred.”
Chaudhry further said that using the Noor Mukadam murder, Indian TV channels uploaded several hours of videos in a bid to defame Pakistan.
“A massive media war has been launched against Pakistan through fake news,” he warned.